The half sister by Sandie Jones
Macmillan, 2020. ISBN: 9781529033045.
(Age: Adolescent - Adult) Sandie Jones plunges us into a world of strained family relationships and suppressed anger in this vibrant narrative. As we learn of the discomfort of characters who fear that all does not seem to be well, so we are intrigued by this family with its slowly revealed secrets. Tension permeates the whole novel as we read, chapter by chapter, of the individual stories of two sisters, one realising that she is living under the iron rule of an extremely repressive, angry husband, while the tension of the other sister lies in the shared desperation of herself and her husband to successfully conceive a child.
Early in the narrative we are positioned to see that what lies at the heart of this narrative is the response of their mother, in the apparently unexpected arrival of a young woman who turns up at a Sunday afternoon family gathering shortly after their father's death. Seemingly uninvited, her shocking revelation is that she is their sister. The girls are shocked and distressed, the mother apparently calmly accepting this claim.
Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the two sisters, thus presenting an individual perspective, both of each one's life and of their grief for their mother and themselves, as well as their puzzlement over the unsettling new 'sister'.
In this powerful narrative, there is little release from tension, be it between the sisters, with their mother, or with their partners, thus compelling the reader to consider the actions of each character. By juggling the time frames and details, Jones places us in the same position, as it were, of the characters, who all know only part of the whole story.
This novel is suitable for adolescent and adult reading.